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MELBOURNE (Reuters) - India's GVK Power & Infrastructure has cleared a key hurdle toward developing its A$6.4 billion ($6.3 billion) Alpha coal project, winning state environmental approval for what would be one of Australia's biggest coal mines.

GVK's Alpha project has made the most progress towards development approval among several in the untapped Galilee Basin in Queensland, where rival Indian group Adani Enterprises is planning a A$10.9 billion coal and rail project.

The Alpha project is being run by Hancock Coal, 79 percent owned by GVK and 21 percent owned by Asia's richest woman, Gina Rinehart, who sparked a political storm last week when she won the right to hire foreign workers to build an iron ore mine.

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